A warrant-case is defined to mean a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years. A summons-case means a case relating to an offence, not being a warrant-case.
The code classifies all offences into cognizable and non-cognizable, and the trial procedure into summons-cases and warrant-cases. This division is based on the nature and measure of punishment attached to the offence.
The Code of Criminal Procedure prescribes two procedures for the trial of a warrant case by Magistrates, namely, one adopted by the Magistrate in case instituted on a Police Report while the other in case instituted otherwise than on a Police Report. But in trial of summon case, only one procedure followed, whether instituted on a Police Report or a complaint.
The procedure for summons cases is simpler and speedier. While the procedure for warrant cases are complicated and slower. Warrant cases deal with offences graver than those in summons cases.
In a warrant case, the accused gets more than one opportunity to cross- examine the prosecution witnesses. While in a summons case he gets only one opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.
The Magistrate empowered to convert a summons case into a warrant case under the Code. While a warrant case cannot converted into a summons case.
In warrant case, framing of a formal charge necessary. In summon case, framing of a formal not necessary in a summons case.